Lots of people who had their site developed over a decade ago are wrestling with the decision of having to re-design their websites. The root of their struggle usually has to do with their loss of search engine rankings. On one hand they know their site look terrible on mobile phones and tablets; on the other hand they don’t want to lose their search engine traffic.

In most cases, a ten year old website has lots of good links pointing to it, has a bunch of bookmarks (not all are homepage bookmarks) and has relatively decent rankings, which of course means they have decent site traffic. So what happens if you change the entire platform where you go from some basic html 4.0 site to a more robust WordPress responsive theme website? Will you lose the search engine rankings? No one should answer a question like that with a simple yes or no, as each website is unique. However, in most cases, if you are deleting old inside pages and replacing them with new ones, chances are you will lose some of your search engines rankings.

How to Avoid Losing Search Engine Rankings

Keep The Same Domain Name!

Don’t change your domain name unless you absolutely must! That was simple enough. However, here’s the reasoning, search engines know that domain, they have already indexed it. So do your clients, they have bookmarks to it. Chances are there are links pointing to that domain from all over the Internet. All of that is helpful for your search engine rankings.

 If You Absolutely Must Change Old Domain to New Domain

Okay, so you have a marketing, branding or legal reason where you must change your domain, here are various methods you can do 301 redirects:

 Ruby on Rails Redirect

def old_action
headers[“Status”] = “301 Moved Permanently”
redirect_to “http://www.newdomain.com/”

PHP Redirect

Header( “HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently” );
Header( “Location: http://www.newdomain.com” );

ASP Redirect

<%@ Language=VBScript %>
Response.Status=”301 Moved Permanently”
Response.AddHeader “Location”,”http://www.newdomain.com/”

ASP .NET Redirect

<script runat=”server”>
private void Page_Load(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
Response.Status = “301 Moved Permanently”;

JSP (Java) Redirect

response.setHeader( “Location”, “http://www.newdomain.com/” );
response.setHeader( “Connection”, “close” );

CGI PERL Redirect

$q = new CGI;
print $q->redirect(“http://www.newdomain.com/”);

.htaccess file (Apache)

#Redirect from old domain to new domain
RewriteEngine on
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.newdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

.htaccess file – Old Filename to New Filename (Apache)

Redirect 301 /oldFilename.php http://www.domain.com/newFilename.html

Windows IIS Server

Much easier to do a 301 using a CP (control panel):

  1. Login to the server.
  2. Select Start > Programs > Administrative Tools > Internet Services Manager
  3. Select the server with the website whose page you want to redirect
  4. Right click on the site you want to redirect from and choose Properties > Home Directory
  5. Change the redirect option to “A redirection to a URL” and type in the new domain name (new website address) in the field
  6. Check the box “A permanent redirection for this resource”. Not checking the box will do a 302 redirect as opposed to a 301 redirect.

Web Hosting

If your rankings with the old site were doing fine with your old web hosting company, then there is not reason your should be changing hosts, as long as their service is in part with your expectations. However, if you absolutely must change hosting companies, then it is important that you ask for the following:

1. Dedicated IP address – this means that only your site appears when someone or you visit the exact IP address. Shared IP addresses can cause SEO headaches as you don’t know what other spammy sites are sharing that IP address with you.

2. Ensure that you are on a server that is up and running almost all of the time, and is fast too. If you notice that your site keeps going down or that your site is painfully slow, call the web hosting company and request a newer/better server.

The above in a nutshell is how you can keep a majority of your search engine rankings if you end up revamping your site or getting a new domain name altogether.

If you are looking for professional SEO help, we at RegisterEverywhere.com are a phone call away! 1-800-585-3222.